The 43rd State Exhibition of Art plays with media, ideas and moods

A monochromatic pink man with spiral metal stubs for arms sporting a green banana leaf, a terracotta satchel marked ‘endless journey’, a few terracotta some-things arranged on a table, a painting of Rs.10 notes woven to make a mat, an ‘abandoned king’ with the playthings of childhood…these are just a few of the works that the State Exhibition of Art by the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi has showcased in its 43 edition.

The entries span space, sensibilities and of course, generations. Entries from students of various fine arts colleges across the state show a maturity beyond their years. The State Awards, which were announced earlier this year, went to P.S. Jayamol, Rajeesh Sarovar, Sajeesh P.A., Sudhakaran N.K. and Avanavu Narayanan. The other awards included V. Sankara Menon Endowment gold medal, the Vijayaraghavan Endowment gold medal, Honourable Mention and Special Mention Awards.

The works speak of personal stories, nostalgia, environmental concerns and contemporary issues. Every frame was a delightful trip which piqued curiosity and occasionally, aroused wonder. Rajeesh Sarovar’s oil on canvas award-winning work, the verdant paradise of the ‘Abanted King Celebrating Childhood’ tells a story – at a deeper level of a time lost. Jayamol’s work, ‘The Great Family Story’, a profusion of colours (dry pastels on paper) could well be the chaos of any of our lives. The dimensions of both these works, the former 180 x 150 cm and the latter 143 x 120 cm, gives them a presence. Avanavu Narayanan’s work in pink tinted sepia, ‘Uprooted Traditions’, soft pastel on paper, tells a story of a changing way of life. The other paintings in the category speak of nostalgia and loss such as Sajeesh P.A’s, which tells of ‘Transitional Spaces’ (charcoal on paper) as does Sudhakaran N.K.’s sculpture (wood) ‘Onnum Ariyathe’.

The show is proof of the art fraternity’s confidence in experimentation – be it media, subject or treatment. Most works display a high quality (within existing limitations) of execution.

Going by the quality, the jury comprising R.B. Bhaskaran (former chairman of the National Academy of Art and member of the jury of the Florence Biennale), DLN Reddy and Santhiswaroopini must have had a tough time choosing the winners.

If you are in town, the show is worth your while. It is a different world in there.

The exhibition concludes on April 11.